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Day #11 Red’s Pilgrimage Washington D.C

At Red’s we serve more than 70,000 people across the business each month. By those odds, you’re going to meet some cool, interesting people stood outside, whilst catching a smoke. Cue Bryan Crosswhite. Bryan is a Louisiana-born, ex-government official who now runs a string of Cajun restaurants, The Cajun Experience.

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If you’ve never had Cajun food then blend a fusion of French thinking, american loving and the Gulf of Mexico, and you’ve got it. Dishes like Crawfish Boil, Étouffée, fried Catfish, Gator Bites, and Seafood Gumbo intoxicate your mind and palate. And here, it’s all next level.

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On the steps of Red’s Manchester we promised Bryan the next time we were over we’d hook up and check out his place. We took an internal flight from Austin to Washington D.C especially. And sweet mother of meat, are we glad we did. Like his food, Bryan is a wonderfully intoxicating person to be around. Laid back, incredibly sharp and intelligent, full of heart, a complete foodie nut, and full to the brim with engaging stories; this was the perfect antidote to barbecue, bourbon and relentless schedules.

Crawfish Boil

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Craw Mac & Cheese

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Jambalaya

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Étouffée

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Crawfish Pies 

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Cajun Bloody Mary

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One brewer, many choices

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Banana Pudding

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If you’re ever in Virginia, or Washington D.C. please take the time to visit The Cajun Experience, and take a step into the world of authentic, Louisiana-inspired food: it’s a promise from the Red’s team you won’t regret it.

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Day #10 Red’s Pilgrimage Austin

The last time we were here, the Red’s team were on a very personal mission to visit the lauded Mecca of American barbecue; Franklin’s. Queue jump a year forward, and with slightly more knowledge under our BBQ belts, this visit was a chance to wind down from the intensity of the Pilgrimage and not have to face 4 hours of waiting to fill our bellies.

Before arriving in Texas’s capital, we did have to deal with the misfortune of Scott’s driving skills, which landed our multi-tonne RV in a roadside quagmire in the middle of duelling banjo’s territory, only to luckily be pulled free by a man who happened to have a fully speced up, but hugely out of date, tow truck in his back yard. $60 in $1 bills later (it looked fatter that way), and we were on the road again.

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Black’s is a famous name in BBQ if you live around these parts. No family in Texas has owned and continuously operated a barbecue business longer – it’s now in its 4th generation.  We’ve already feasted at their Lockhart joint, but they also have one in San Marcos and another here in Austin Gaudalupe, so time to kick back.
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We SSS and jumped in the taxi from the RV park. The Texan sun was burning by this point, a prophetic and welcome reprieve from what it had been. It’s always great at this point in the Pilgrimage; everyone is relaxed, contemplative, talkative, and totally up for reliving the past 10 days antics. So, when the taxi driver dropped us off, we completely missed the fact we hadn’t been dropped at Black’s Austin, but Terry Black’s Austin, a family offshoot, run by his twin sons, Michael and Mark. Well, if it was anything like the Mueller’s family dynasty where everything and anything that family touch turns to BBQ gold, we had to give it go.
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And we weren’t disappointed. Day #10 was rounded off with mesquite and oak-smoked Brisket and spare ribs, plus a load of great sides. What happened on Rainy Street later will stay off the page – but if you see us, do ask and we’ll be more than happy to share.

Day #8 & #9 Red’s Pilgrimage Dayton and Houston

Whilst not eating is cheating on Pilgrimage we managed to sneak a few hours in amongst the busy schedule to truly immerse ourselves in the Texan way of life.  Think guns. Horses. Girls on horses. Girls on horses firing guns.

Dayton Gun Club & Range
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For the price of a pint you can hire a fully automatic weapon and fill your boots. Add another $5 and you can purchase a pot of Tannerite, an explosive that detonates only when shot with a high velocity bullet. It explodes with such force that you can feel the shock wave on your chest from a good 25 metres away.
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For a good few hours we got trigger happy with AKs, MKs, semi automatic hand guns, shot guns, you name it, all under the watchful eye of Bob, an 83-year-old US navy war veteran, who wore a .350 Magnum stuffed down the front of his pants, like a total boss.
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Houston Rodeo
For 3-weeks in March the huge NRG stadium, home to the Houston Texans American Football team, transforms into the incredible Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. To get a sense of how popular Rodeo is here in the Lone Star state, during the whole event more than 2.4m Stetson-wearing locals turn up to swill beer, buy steers worth up to $300,000 and watch cowboys try to stay attached to a bucking bronco to earn a $50,000 pay check. This was the finale day, and as we made our way from the car park in the pi£$ing down rain, all we could see was a tidal wave of denim and rhinestones pouring into the stadium…
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We were there to hook up with ‘Outlaw Annie’ to give us the inside score into cowboy mounted shooting, a sport that she is crowned world champion.
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This Rodeo discipline involves a rider attempt to shoot a series of 10 balloons whilst galloping around a route faster than AP McCoy, change guns halfway, and career over the finish in under 15 seconds.
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Whilst originally bullets were used, modern times have required a more spectator-friendly approach so black gunpowder is used in its place, giving the sharp shooter a range of around 20’. The whole spectacle is served up with a gargantuan dollop of true yankee pomp to whip up the crowd into a whooping and hollering frenzy.

We spent the rest of the afternoon watching her new recruits before heading out to the huge outdoor food tent area where you could eat everything from mesquite-smoked giant bacon-wrapped turkey legs to authentic Cajun dishes.

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Today was a Texan good. Guns. Girls on horses firing guns. And bacon. Because everything tastes better with bacon.

Day #7 Red’s Pilgrimage Pecan Lodge

“I wasn’t born in Texas but I got here as fast as I could”.

This well-known local car bumper sticker was made for Dallas. It’s been a year since we were here in this fantastic city, catching up with BBQ friends Justin and Diane Fourton from Pecan Lodge.

Last time their tiny little operation in Dallas Farmer’s Market was punching above its weight turning out incredible barbecue, and making Texas Monthly headlines. Now, one year on they’ve put down roots and invested in their very own 240-cover restaurant. It’s sited in Deep Ellum, a cool, creative area of Dallas punctuated with live music bars, bric-a-brac shops and tattoo studios.

This couple is super-laid back and unassuming, but don’t let that cloud any preconceptions you may have about their desire to succeed. The former Accenture corporate consultants claim part of their success is down to their previous roles, helping them bring discipline and an exacting, scientific approach to the art of barbecue.

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Justin towers at well over 6’6”, and is built like a second row rugby player. His wife Diane is one of those women who makes you feel so at ease that you can end up losing a few hours just shooting the breeze with her.

We shared stories over a pint of their new house beer – Boss Lady – a collaboration between them and local brewery, Four Corners, whom we met last visit. The past 12-months have been a baptism of fire, as they’ve grappled with the demands of serving 3,000 people a day at weekends, and regularly selling out by 3pm.

Thankfully despite the move further into town, they’ve managed to maintain their use of steel barrel smokers with offset fireboxes, all housed in a covered area at the back, overlooking the outdoor seating area.  We popped back to check out the guys just starting their overnight shift, tending the brisket and pork butts.

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As we moved outside you could smell Justine’s choice blend of oak and mesquite, floating down the road like a lasso ready to snare any unwitting passers by. Before we left we spent a brief moment in the kitchen quizzing one of his kitchen staff, Red, about Pecan Lodge’s housemade sausages and managed to mine some good nuggets to bring back home.

True to the generosity of this fantastic couple, their parting gifts were two huge full bags, brimming with a whole brisket, two giant beef ribs, an entire spare rib slab, half a butt of pulled pork and a tray of Diane’s famous Mac and Cheese. Amen to Pecan Lodge.

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Day #6 Red’s Pilgrimage Joplin & Oklahoma City

Time to chew up a few more hundred miles and cross into a new state; Oklahoma. We’re on route to Oklahoma City to visit Back Door BBQ, but not before a quick ‘cue stop in Joplin to meet with Amy and her team at Woody’s Smokehouse.

Woody’s
If anyone followed the Pilgrimage last year you might remember our brief visit to Rudy’s in Texas, a huge multi-site smokehouse operation.

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Intentional or not, but Woody’s looks very similar – which came first, who knows. This independent, roadside ‘cue joint is owned and run by serial restaurateur Amy Vogt. Whilst without its own dedicated style Oklahoma’s BBQ blends the pork traditions of Southeastern US and the beef tradition of Texas, as well smoked Turkey.

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We sneaked behind the scenes with Amy. Outback two huge J&R smokers dominate the kitchen. The Pitmaster here is a young guy, Jake, who has worked his way up in the business over the last 10 years.

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We swapped a few recipes and ideas for rubs, before getting stuck in to some excellent food. Perhaps the standout, and something we’re giving consideration to trying out at Red’s, is smoked turkey and pork loin – deep smoky flavour and insanely moist. The sides were equally strong with a ‘potato soup’ dish a memorable choice.

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Time to bounce to Oklahoma City….

Back Door BBQ
Oklahoma City plays host to one of the largest livestock markets in the world. You can be sat in a restaurant eating your barbecue whilst cattle lorry after cattle lorry passes by in the street outside. It’s a good indication the food miles are going to be practically zero.

This city also sits slap bang in the heart of ‘Tornado Alley’. Measured on a scale of force and destruction from F1 – F5, this city has had the misfortunate of being on the thick end of eight F4s and a devastating F5. And guess what; it’s approaching tornado season, so time to get in, eat up and chip.

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Back Door BBQ is run by chef Kathryn Mathis and Pitmaster Kenny. We were super excited to see these guys, given the banter we’d had on social – they seemed to really get the spirit of the Red’s Pilgrimage.

We were welcomed at the door by Kathryn: short in stature, wearing chef’s blacks with quarter length trousers exposing her many tattoos. Each design is a reflection of her dry humour, and we knew straight away we’d get on.

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This joint is a chef’s smokehouse. The menu is simple, but epic in every way. The meats reflected the true Oklahoma blend of Texas and Southeastern style, but with the addition of a unique, local twist; smoked Bologna.

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Sides included fried pickled Okra, deviled eggs and baked corn, and there wasn’t one burger or sandwich that didn’t sound next level. Oh, and did we mention the incredible free table sauces? Classic, Hot, Sweet, Mustard and Espresso completed the experience.

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This was true barbecue, with a huge big Okie dollop of love, attention and creativity.

 

Day #5 Red’s Pilgrimage Kansas City

Time to cross into our third state, Missouri, and head to Kansas City. For anyone that knows their barbecue, you’ll appreciate the melting pot that is this city. In terms of ‘cue, it’s probably most famous for Burnt Ends (thrice smoked nuggets of brisket) and its eponymous sweet molasses, tomato-based sauce.

Given our own sauces and rubs are launching in stores this summer, it was the perfect opportunity to give them the ultimate taste test.

We’d heard about a local craft brewery, Cinder Block Brewing Co. that was doing some good things with barrel ageing, plus the owner’s cousin ran a food truck, Back Rack BBQ, that pitches up outside the front door each day. Does it get any better?

Cinder Block

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A little smaller than 4 Hands Brewery, but no less creative in their approach to craft ales, we were given the tour by head brewer, ‘Bucky’. Imagine Double Rainbow Guy and Galifianakis rolled into one, and you’ve got our host.

He was sporting a fresh cut on his head. It turned out that the previous day he’d been working late in the brewery, stood up too quickly, and smacked his head on one of the huge tanks, knocking himself unconscious. Or at least that’s what he told the missus when he got home.

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We spent a good few hours trying various different ales, from their Rivet Rye and Northtown Native session ale, to crazy concoctions aged in old Chardonnay barrels.

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His enthusiasm was infectious, and before we left we agreed to hook up later at the brewery bar to really get stuck in. And Jesus did we. The night ended with drunken man hugs, and a firm pact with Bucky for him and his missus to visit us later in the year, and be part of our wolf pack. Dooooooooouuubbbbbllllleee Rainbow maaaaaaaannn!

 

Back Rack BBQ Truck

In the last few years food trucks have become more and popular in the UK as the street food revolution continues to grow. In the US they’re everywhere.  The Back Rack BBQ Truck, run by Chase & Stephanie, is as legit as they come, towing its own mini smoker behind it. Chase was particularly keen for us to try his brisket, which he smokes using Hickory & White Oak.

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Seeing as we’ve just brought back Pulled Meat Nachos for the month of March, we decided to chow down on their version: BBQ Nachos – house chips drizzled in creamy cheese, chopped brisket, pulled pork with pico de gallo (salsa), crispy slaw, jalapeños, sour cream and Kansas City BBQ sauce.

Brisket

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BBQ Nachos

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Paprika and chipotle-flavoured onion rings

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The smoke profile of the brisket was incredible and much more accentuated than we’d experienced so far on the trip, thanks to the choice of wood. Mixed with all the other flavours, this dish was the bomb. But the question is, did Red’s Kansas City BBQ sauce get the motherland stamp of sweet and sticky approval?

They asked to keep the bottle. Nuff said ;)

Day #4 Red’s Pilgrimage St. Louis, M.O

Pappy’s

At Red’s we smoke fresh on site each and every day. That means that if we’re busy, we will sell out of certain items. We’ll never reheat or store until the next day. We learnt this style from Pappy’s before Red’s even opened, so this was an important visit for us.

It’s run by quite possibly the coolest fucking guy to live – Mike Emerson.

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Sat outside his restaurant in the bright St. Louis sun we heard him coming long before we could see him. Straddling a soft tail Harley Davidson he cruised past us and parked up. Wearing a Dickies’ shirt, loose jeans and sporting a long wispy beard, Mike was every part the Pitmaster.

He began by telling us about a lucky break which firmly put Pappy’s on the map. Back in 2008 he took a call asking whether he wanted the restaurant to be on a new TV show.

At first he thought it was his mates stitching him up, but clocking the area dial code, he quickly realised it was genuine. He was given 5 minutes to convince the researcher why Pappy’s should be chosen. He still can’t recollect what he said, but whatever it was, it worked.

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That show was the first ever series of Man vs Food.

Before the now cult show aired he used to receive 5,000 hits to his website a month. The day after the episode broadcast that number rose to 5,000 a minute and crashed his server. The show propelled him into the mainstream and he hasn’t looked back.

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His barbecue is excellent, and follows the Memphis-style. The baby back ribs have the most ridiculous bulge of loin you can ever imagine, and once tried it’s easy to see why he’s one of only a few Pitmasters to be invited back year after year to the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party.

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Given the Man vs Food link, we’d arranged to hook up with a professional eater, Randy Santel. This guy gets paid to tackle eating challenges, as well as advise restaurants on how to create them. Only in America, baby.

We had already clocked that Pappy’s had the perfect dish – the Adam Bomb, created in honour of Adam Richman’s visit. This beast boasts:

A full slab of ribs, brisket and pork sandwich, 1/4 chicken, a spicy sausage Frito pie and four sides of your choice.

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The gladiatorial battle lines of meat had been drawn. Pre challenge the prized food fighters took one last chance to get their game faces on in the car park.

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As the behemoth of barbecue landed on the table Scott’s top lip quivered and sweated, whilst Randy looked like a 7-year-old who had just been given his first Scalextric kit. After 9 minutes of gagging, gipping, writhing and more sweating – mainly from Scott – the tag team owned the 5lbs-worth of barbecue.

We spent the rest of the afternoon outside in the sunshine propping up Mike’s outdoor smoker called Walter (incidentally the same name as our barrel smoker, named after Scott’s Grandpa), and puffing endless cigarettes whilst chewing the brisket fat with Mike.

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Crown Candy

Needing to kill a few hours before picking up the RV, we headed out on a recommendation from Mike to visit Crown Candy. This is a Mecca for any sweet toothed-fiend and a firm St. Louisan institution. Crown Candy was opened in 1922 by two Greek immigrants wanting to bring their confectionery skills to the city. Now four generations on, this little shop in a rough part of town enjoys huge queues, for their milkshakes bring all the boys to the yard.

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Even on a Monday mid afternoon the queue snaked around the side of the shop – surely this was a sign of good things to come. As we made the door the kitsch 1950’s styling begins to build the anticipation. Then you read the menu – Hot Fudge Split, Choc Marshmallow, Carmel Pecan. By the time you reach the counter you lose all mental control. Words just fall out you mouth and you end up ordering far more than any human can possible defeat.

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Expect new things on the Red’s shakes menu soon.

Day #3 Red’s Pilgrimage St Louis, MO

Backyard BBQ

Over the years some of our best discoveries have been made not at well known restaurants or talking to famed Pitmasters, but at off the beaten track joints and serendipitous meetings; ‘Big Wing’ Dave Wingo was one of those.

This guy grew up in one of the toughest neighbourhoods in St Louis, Hillsdale. Now, still living in the same house with his extended family (Miss Lilly his 84-year-old Mum has taken the basement) Wingo cooks in his back yard, and is famous amongst his neighbours for turning out great barbecue.

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Having hooked up over email he invited us over for the afternoon.  As we made our way in taxis from Downtown St Louis to his gaff the houses began to grow more and more dilapidated, the corner kids looked more and more gangster, and my hoop started to chatter.  This didn’t look like the type of hood nine out-of-town guys wanted to be lost in, asking for directions.

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We pulled up, opened the metal swing gate, and made our way up the steps. You could feel the eyes hitting the back of your head from those slouching on adjacent porches.  Was this the right house? It had to be, the taxis had already cruised off….

Knock, knock….

Relief. There, bounding down his driveway was big Dave Wingo, arms splayed out inviting a big bear hug from team #RedsPilgrimage.

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For the next three hours we made our home in his back yard, the eponymous name for his BBQ business.  He’d put on a huge smoked spread for us, including spare ribs, turkey wings, rib tips, ‘corny pigs’ – smoked corn with pineapple ‘ears’, snoots – deep fried pig’s snouts – his Momma’s made corn bread, collard greens and BBQ’d spaghetti.

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Every now again, more and more neighbours and family members would wander in, bringing bottles of local spirits we ‘HAD’ to try.  For a family that were fairly hand to mouth we were made to feel so welcome, and their generosity and effort was humbling.

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Dave’s dream had always been to take his back yard BBQ hobby into bricks and mortar. Last year, with the help of family, friends and a dogged belief, it became a reality. A disused building across the road was transformed into Back Yard BBQ restaurant, serving the best snoots in town. He’d made it.

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We left the party a little bit crunk, and a lot richer in new friendships.

4 Hands Brewery

No Pilgrimage can go without a trip to a local craft brewery. The boys (and girls) at 4 Hands are creative rule breakers when it comes to brewing; wine and spirit barrels containing an array of fruit, herbs, and spices are used, in conjunction with wild yeast strains, to enhance the flavours of the ale. This had to be a must-stop on the road trip.

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True to their brand, our tour was anything but normal. In amongst trying their left field ales including the Chocolate Milk Stout, Divided Sky Rye IPA, and the single hop Reprise Centennial Red, we shot paintballs at targets next to the canning machine, drag-raced pallet lifts round the brewing cylinders, and undertook professional eating training by ingesting slice upon slice of giant watermelons to stretch stomachs for the following days challenge….

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Safe to say two slabs and two boxes of their sups made it onto the RV.

Onwards to Kansas City….

Day #2 Red’s Pilgrimage NYC, Brooklyn

YouTube is one of our greatest sources of research to find ‘cue joints and Pitmasters we want to hook up with whilst on these road trips.

Billy Durney was one of them. His short video clip, which showed him at The Big Apple Block Party – an invitational only BBQ competition – serving up what looked to be the most epic beef short ribs, instantly convinced us we needed a meet.

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He’s big. Both in stature and personality. His former life as a private security guard for high profile celebs, got too intense and so he decided to jack it all in and follow his true calling as a Pitmaster.  Like us, he spent more than four years travelling across the US researching, refining and learning his trade, before taking over a disused warehouse in Red Hook, Brooklyn to carve out a name.

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He believes in using huge barrel smokers you find in many of the Texas smokehouses to create the best barbecue. But unlike the Lone Star state, it’s not that easy to park these smokin’ beasts right outside a restaurant in Brooklyn.  So Billy has taken an additional outdoor lock up nearby.

We arrived early doors in the pissing down rain.  Mike, Billy’s hirsute pitmaster, had been tending the pit all night, and was just finishing off the brisket and beef ribs.  As ever on these trips, most good things start with bourbon and beers, and so we cracked a bottle and a 24 box and talked all things barbecue.

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It turns out Billy is super connected and knows most of the Pitmasters and smokehouse owners we’ve met over the last few years. And like his contemporary greats, his approach to the art is beyond obsessive. From wood type, to smoking temperatures, techniques, spritzers, rubs and everything in-between, he’s tested it, practised, and re-tested to keep his game strong. We took a break from chucking a tomahawk into a tree sump to try a beef rib, straight from the smoker. Its 12hr oak-smoked home had turned this rib into an indescribably amazing snack.

Tomahawk target practice
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Beef rib fresh from the smoker
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The high fat content had allowed the meat to slowly cook, whilst never drying out and so fell easily from the bone. The salt and pepper bark gave an amazing crunch, and mixed perfectly with the buttery fat and lightly smoked meat.  The last time we tasted ‘cue this good was back in Texas last year. Now with a feverish taste, we headed to Hometown BBQ to check the rest of Billy’s menu.

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Jerk baby backs
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Vietnamese style chicken wings
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Corn bread, whiskey sour pickles and banana pudding
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Scott, Billy and James
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SIDECAR

Whist in Brooklyn, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to catch up with our pal Adam Richman over Brunch. The man is a walking Foodiepedia and for the next few hours, and a gallon of consommé Bloody Mary’s, we swapped stories, jokes and quotes, and walked away with a tonne of new places to check out on the road trip ahead. Thanks dude!

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ARROGANT SWINE

Still with a taste for more, we bounced to Arrogant Swine in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Pitmaster and owner, Tyson, is on a mission to bring North Carolina whole hog to NYC.  This style of barbecue involves slowly smoking the whole animal for almost an entire day before mixing all the parts together to create a flavour bomb of pork.  Just like Billy, the intensity and passion of Tyson’s art burns through every conversation. It was clear to see why NYC is steadily stamping its mark on the true barbecue scene.

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Barbecue is all about sharing knowledge, so whilst there we took the opportunity to introduce Tyson to the Red’s Donut Burger.  We jumped into the kitchen, and using only a waffle iron – they don’t have any broilers or grills – we cooked and built our holy union of sweet and meat.

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Lacking Dirty Sauce we chop housed a blend of Tyson’s Carolina Gold mustard sauce and Sriracha (chilli sauce) and pimped it with a healthy serving of chopped whole hog.  It’s safe to say this bastardised Red’s classic travels well; the entire crew engulfed the kitchen and nailed every tasty morsel within seconds.

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CRIF DOGS

What James Brown did for funk, Brian Shebairo is doing for hot dogs – ‘watch yourself!’

In a Tardis-like joint, the smell of deep fried, bacon-wrapped hot dogs practically clogged the air… in a really, really good way!

Crif Dogs

These guys have taken the saying “everything tastes better with bacon” to a whole new level.  Each dog is lovingly wrapped, stabbed (with a cocktail stick) deep fried and laid in a freshly baked soft finger roll before being dressed with a medley of toppings unlike anything we’ve ever seen… staples such as sour cheese dog, spicy redneck and tempted dog are part and parcel of what Crif Dogs has come to represent, a well known product in a way you never expected and more surprisingly a way you didn’t realise you’d absolutely love.

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Every item on the menu is created, made and served from a kitchen no bigger than the average spare bedroom, with pretty much no ceiling height, and no space to swing a cat (or hot dog for that matter) but the kitchen team deal out some of the best examples of New York’s most famous street food.

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Brian’s laid-back approach could be mistaken for disinterest, that is until you realise he’s simply one of the most chilled out guys you’ll ever meet. Even the name “Crif” Dogs comes from an infectious yet admirably lackadaisical approach to branding.. “Back in the day, I’d have a mouth full of hot dogs and I’d shout my buddy Chris and it just came out sounding like Crif… so we called it Crif Dogs.”

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He started the business on a wing and a prayer after eating shoddy dogs at the end of his many nights out; 15 years later this guy has established himself as one of NY’s coolest independent food joints… and rightly so.

If you find yourself in NYC, put this on your bucket list. And if you’re lucky you might just discover the speakeasy bar hidden inside a telephone box.

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Day #1 Red’s Pilgrimage 2015: NYC, Brooklyn

For a team obsessed with barbecue undertaking its annual research Pilgrimage to the States, you might ask what the brisket are we doing visiting New York?

This state is more known for its Italian-influences: pizza, pasta, delis, giant sandwiches and sidewalk hot dogs. But not American low and slow barbecue.

However this resurgent trend which is firmly back in the zeitgeist, both here in the States, and now gripping the UK, has put down roots east coast side. And the Pitmasters here aren’t just ‘giving it a go’. They’re 100% serious they can turn out the best ‘cue this country has to offer.  They don’t just want to equal the famed Pitmasters of Texas, Tennessee or the Carolinas, these new NYC Pitmasters want to better them; respectively ;)

Unconstrained by the shackles of regional ‘BBQ rules’, there is no one style found here in New York. Similar to Red’s, many of these new smokehouses celebrate the varying different regional barbecue styles, all under one roof. Texas beef brisket, North Carolina Pulled Pork and chopped Whole Hog, Memphis spare and baby back ribs. It’s a true melting pot.

But can they really take on the Franklins, Muellers, Cookstons and Fourtons of this world? Let’s eat and find out….

BROOKLYN, NYC

The S’Wich game is strong here in NYC, so we took the opportunity to head out into Red Hook, Brooklyn, to find us some lunch.

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Defontes is an Italian-American deli, which has happily fed the local neighbourhood since 1922. This place is straight out of The Sopranos. So much so, when you walk in there’s a wall dedicated to its patrons, and dominating half the stretch are various different cast members from every Italian mobster film you’ve ever watched.

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Americans don’t mess about with size of fillings. Add in to the mix the flavoursome Italian influence, and you’ve the greatest sandwiches known to a made man. We ordered a boxful and sent our hunger swimming with the fishes.

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The rest of the afternoon was spent in Wiliamsburgh, a hip Brooklyn district sitting just west of Manhattan over the Hudson river, and home to one of Red’s customer’s favourites suds – Brooklyn.

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This brand has cut its path to mainstream now, but whilst it has numerous out of town breweries to cope with global demand, the original brewery site remains dedicated to kicking out small batch craft ales which helped make its name. A re-occuring annual favourite: The Unsung Hero (4.75%), a saison with ginger, lemon and lime zest, received some serious attention from the team, as did the East IPA (6.9%).

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Brooklyn sits across the water from down town NYC, so not wanting to miss the epic Manhattan skyline, we squeezed in a few Six Point Brewery Co Bengali Tigers, 10 stories up in the Ides Bar of Wyhte Hotel.  You have to be completely devoid of any humanity to not look fall deeply in love, and look in such awe, at this most grandiose of cities.

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Day #-1 of Red’s Pilgrimage was wrapped up back in downtown NYC at the world famous Katz’s Deli.  This place has fed everyone from Frank Sinatra to the Foo Fighters and many Presidents in between.  It’s one of New York’s oldest delis, and was put on the global map in the 80s when Meg Ryan faked an orgasm at the table in the film When Harry Met Sally.

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The Red’s Good Book used to play host to a Reuben Sandwich, so with this trip being all about finding new dishes, and homing existing ones, we placed our order.

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If you’ve never had a Reuben, you need this in your life:

Sliced pastrami (cured beef brisket), sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian Dressing (ketchup, Ranch dressing, onions, parsley, garlic and Worcestershire sauce), all between white sour dough bread. At first the $20 price tag seems heavy.

Then you clamp your cake hole round it, and realise the irony of the orgasm scene; subtly spiced, aromatic beef, acidic sauerkraut, umami rich cheese and the creamy, tangy dressing make this sandwich not only worthy of resurrection to the Good Book, but an excuse to sport a proud semi-on in a restaurant….

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Let’s call this a day, dive under the duvet at The Comfort Inn and ready ourselves for the onslaught of four full on food stops in one 24 hr period….

#RedsPilgrimage is back

The Donut Burger. The Pitmaster S’Wich. The Sleepy James. USDA Black Angus brisket. All of these Red’s favourites, and more, have been inspired by our annual road trip Pilgrimage across the States.

This Friday 13th March we’re hittin’ the road again.

Donut-Burger

For 10 days straight, our Pit Pilgrims will road trip 4,000 miles through Brooklyn, St. Louis, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Dallas, and Austin –  all in the name of true, authentic barbecue (heavy is the cross we bear for you the faithful…).

We’ll eat as much ‘cue as any human can physically handle. We’ll sup local craft beer, slam bourbon and interview ANYONE who has a passion for barbecue – from legendary pitmasters to happy moonshiners (who can forget Sleepy James, after all?!)

The annual trip influences our Good Book each and every winter. This year we’re giving you an early preview of what’s to come by running a month of Pilgrimage-inspired specials from the end of April. You can earn access to this secret menu and try our latest creations by signing up on our Pilgrimage page.

Follow us along our barbecue-laden journey with the hash tag #redspilgrimage and on our dedicated Pilgrimage 2015 page. Hungry for more? Catch last year’s epic journey by listening to the podcasts here.

Amen.

The second coming….Pulled Meat Nachos is back.

The people have spoken. Pulled Meat Nachos have returned for the month of March. Alleluia!

This is an off-menu item, meaning you need to grab a ticket to order it….

Pulled Meat Nachos

In case you forgot (let’s be honest, how could you?), these are homestyle nachos covered in pulled pork, USDA brisket and pulled chicken topped with jalapeños and our housemade chili con queso, guacamole, sour cream and Unholy BBQ sauce.

Available at 12.95 in Leeds, Headingley and Manchester, we have 500 tickets/restaurant.  Re-live the legend, and grab yours now.

Leeds: 

Headingley: 

Manchester: 

Amen.

February #FridayFoodFight

Friday Food Fight is returning this weekend and we’ll be representing once again, bringing BBQ to the hungry masses in Manchester.

Last month’s menu seemed to tickle your bellies, with BBQ bites from our new menu making the line-up. So we’re coming back at you with some of those block rock meats.

Main - Pulled Pork and Slaw

S’WICHES – £5
Red’s pulled pork, slaw & apple sauce
Cheese & jalapeño sausage
USDA beef brisket & burnt ends

MEAT BOXES – 2 meats £6, 3 meats £8, 4 meats £10
Red’s pulled pork & apple sauce
KC-Wet baby back ribs (1/2 rack)
1/4 smoked sticky chicken
Cheese & jalapeño sausage
USDA beef brisket & burnt ends

All served with slaw.

SIDES – £2
Our famous Pit beans
Mac-n-cheese
Bean chili (v)

Hit up more #FridayFoodFight fun and news here. See you tomorrow, believers.

Red’s #LiveSessions: Jamie Joseph – Hit The Ground Running

Every Friday and Sunday, catch our #LiveSessions at #RedsManchester and #RedsNottingham while you fill your belly with barbecue and beers.

We’ll showcase local talent, as well as bands from across the UK who shine with a little country, blue grass and Americana in their soul.

If you’re a band and would like to entertain the flock while they feast, drop a line to amen@truebarbecue.com with links to your music.

For now, enjoy the sweet, sweet sounds of Jamie Joseph, playing live from #RedsNottingham on the Sabbath last weekend.

 

Come forth to Morning Service Brunch

Dearly beloved,

No longer shalt you have to endure the weekend slings and arrows of early morning hunger and hangovers.

Morning Service is here. Brunch is now served in Leeds, Call Lane and Nottingham. AMEN! (scroll to see the menu below)

Brunch

For those believers in Manchester & Headingley who regularly attended worship, head’s up, as there’s a new menu.

We’ve taken your feedback and refreshed the menu. For some, your favourites might have disappeared. Fear not though. We’re sure the new dishes will help fill the void and soon become firm favourites.

Red’s Country Fry

Reds Country Fry

Brunch runs every weekend, Saturday and Sunday, 9am-12pm. Last orders are 11:45am so we can prep for the lunch rush. We’ll start offering the lunch menu from 11am.

If you’re looking for a Bloody Mary to restore your soul, we can only start serving from 10am due to licensing laws.

Bloody Pig

As ever, let us know what you think, either on Twitter, your local Facebook page or on email at amen@truebarbecue.com. Feel free to share your morning objects of worship on Instagram with #morningservice #brunch

Brunch menu brunch menu 2

Friday Food Fight Good Book

Been a while FFFighters! Banish the January Blues and get some barbecue into your life.

Since we last saw you we’ve launched a new menu in the restaurant so we’ve thrown a few of these out to you this Friday to try.

Come forth to the travelling Church of True Barbecue.

For those that have never been to #FridayFoodFight, check it out here.

FRIDAY 23 JANUARY GOOD BOOK

S’WICHES – £5
Pulled Pork, slaw & apple sauce
Cheese & jalapeño sausage
USDA beef brisket & burnt ends

MEAT BOXES – 2 meats £6, 3 meats £8, 4 meats £10
Pulled Pork & apple sauce
KC-Wet baby back ribs (1/2 rack)
1/4 smoked sticky chicken
Cheese & jalapeño sausage
USDA beef brisket & burnt ends

All served with slaw

KC-Wet Baby Backs

SIDES – £2
Our famous Pit beans
Mac-n-cheese
Veg chilli

 

AMEN

The True You Programme: meat will set you free

***PASSWORDS RELEASED: SEE BELOW – UNLOCK BARBECUE NIRVANA***

Welcome,

You’ve found the True You Programme, where meat will set you free. The inspirational 30-day Self Help guide, everyone is talking about. We’re changing lives by the smoker-load. Relax.

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Perhaps you’ve read about it in Miracle Meat Monthly? Or perchance a family member with a penchant for brisket and trampolines has recommended it?

We suspect though that for the vast majority, you’ve happened upon it by pure, blissful chance – a simple act of serendipity in the mire of the January Blues. However you’ve found the bosom of enlightenment and fulfilment, you’re safe, you’re home.

For the next 30-days, through the medium of meat (and probably a lot of hot air & bullsh*t), your life is set to change.

Be sure to follow it live on one of these channels:

INSTAGRAM / NOTTINGHAM FACEBOOK / LEEDS FACEBOOK / HEADINGLEY FACEBOOK / MANCHESTER FACEBOOK

Don’t have Instagram but want to view and comment? Check it here

The 4-Steps of Empowerment will open your eyes, mind, heart and belly to new levels of barbecue nirvana.

 

Stage 1: Look Inside Yourself – Emptiness is a disease. We’ll give you the know-how to banish your past forever and set you on course to a tasty cure

Stage 2: Alignment & Focus – With a new mindset, you’ll agree new goals, new aspirations, new desires (gold lamé shorts are advisable for this stage)

Stage 3: Believe & Achieve – You’ll begin to notice the difference. You’re faster. Quicker. Wittier. You might even grow a few ginger tufts as you begin to believe in yourself

Stage 4: Emergence – Who is this swan, emerging from the ugly duckling ranks of unachievingness? It’s you of course. The True You. Praise be!

 

We can’t say it will be easy. Nor can we say everyone will make this arduous emotional and physical journey. But for those that do, those happy few, January 2015 will shine upon you, like a well polished helmet.

The key to success and achieving your goals – FREE BBQ – are passwords. Hidden password. Be vigilant. Gold frames hold the answer. Make note, and when the time is right (see below), act fast. Use your training, and reap the rewards.

Remember, together, working as one, meat will set us all free.

Stage 1 Look Inside Yourself

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***PASSWORDS***

Have you followed the programme thus far? Deserve to earn free BBQ? Unlock meaty rewards now.

Choose you Church of True Barbecue and enter the password (Check Day 5 film Harness The Pain for a clue – it’s case sensitive)

Nottingham http://bit.ly/1Cv334X
Manchester http://bit.ly/1BainGX
Leeds http://bit.ly/1ubWU8Y
Headingley http://bit.ly/1IQeciK

AMEN

#RedsPayItForward Raises £2,000

For 12 days £3,500 of free BBQ was loaded onto Gift Of Meat cards and hidden on lamp posts, park benches, phone boxes, dark alleys, ledges, statues and even fountains. Did you find it? Were you one of many to pay it forward to charity?

The Red’s 12 Days Of Christmas Giving has drawn to a close, and with our believers help, we’ve managed to raise £2,000 for worthwhile charities, Simon On The Streets and The Mustard Tree.

The idea was based on a simple premise: if you’re the lucky benefactor of generosity, pay it forward; keep the goodwill moving forward.

12 days of xmas

 

Out of 106 separate gifts we sneakily placed around Leeds, Headingley and Manchester 67 of you chose to live the spirit of the festive adventure and paid it forward. Thank you – your generosity will go a long way and the respect of Red doth shine on you. Those 106 donations raised £953, and with our match fund promise, together we’ve turned that into £2,000.

Praise be to everyone that followed the campaign and madly ran about the streets searching for free BBQ.  To the lucky ones, enjoy your feast! To those that found a card, but haven’t yet paid it forward, be sure to donate and leave the long card number in the comments box so we can activate your card…

AMEN!

Christmas Opening Times

Even the Church of True Barbecue needs to close now and again, so check our festive opening hours to avoid disappointment and hunger:

Christmas Eve:  Last tables at 15:45 then we’ll close at 17:00

Christmas Day:  Closed

Boxing Day: Closed

New Year’s Eve: Last tables 18:30 then it’s our ticketed BBQ Build Up event (buy your tickets here)

New Year’s Day: Closed

Friday 2nd January 2015: Your first chance of 2015 to eat some ‘cue!

BBQ Build Up

 

BBQ Build Up 2

Spreading Festive Cheer through Meat

Tis the season of giving, so….

We’re giving believers the chance to share in that amazing feeling of helping others whilst earning free meat.

Preloaded Gift Of Meat cards worth £3,500 are hidden around Leeds, Headingley and Manchester.

12 days of xmas

From MONDAY 8 December your job is to search them out, then pay the generosity forward to charity. With your help we’ve picked two amazing charities to support; Simon On The Streets and Mustard Tree.

For every £1 you donate, we’ll match fund it to help the fund grow.

Locations will be revealed each day here  at 11am, so act quick!

Remember to#RedsPayItForward and let’s spread festive cheer together.